Have you ever wondered when and where the sport of soccer came from? Why is it that so many people in the world are crazy about this game?
Almost every culture has a history of soccer. Keep in mind that soccer is called football in every country around the world and was long before America created her version of "football' from both soccer & rugby. The Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Ancient Greek, Persians, Vikings, and many more played football long before America developed what we know today as the NFL game. The Chinese played soccer games as far back as 3,000 years ago. The Ancient Greeks and Romans used soccer games to sharpen warriors for battle.
Origins of Soccer
It all began in England in October of 1863, when two football associations (“Association football” and “Rugby football”) split. Eleven London clubs and schools had sent their representatives to the Freemason's Tavern (which is a very English way to do things). These representatives were intent on establishing a set of fundamental rules, acceptable to everyone, to govern the matches played between them. Unfortunately, a never-ending dispute concerning shin-kicking, tripping, and carrying the ball was the final tipping point. On the 8th of December the die-hard players of the rugby style (who were in the minority anyway) took their final leave, wanting no part of a game that would not allow tripping, shin-kicking and carrying the ball. Their separation became totally unfixable six years later, when a law was created for football that forbade any handling of the ball (not just “carrying” it). This really upset the rugby style players, so football (soccer) and rugby officially became their own sports.
Thus, the men behind Association football formed The Football Association (FA), whose Laws of the Game created the foundations for the way the sport is played today.
Games were being staged in Great Britain before football had hardly been heard of in Europe. The first was played in 1872 between England and Scotland. This sudden boom of popularity for football, accompanied by staggering crowds of spectators, brought with it certain problems for other countries. Transitioning the sport to a professional occupation was one such problem.
In 1879, a small Lancashire club in England named Darwin became the most popular team for London amateurs. Its popularity grew so much so that two Darwin players, John Love and Fergus Suter, were reported to be the first players ever to receive money for their football talent. This practice grew rapidly, and as early as 1885, the FA found itself having to make it legal for players to earn money.
The spread of football outside England, mainly due to the British influence abroad, started slow; however, it soon spread to all parts of the world. In 1904, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) was founded in Paris to govern the rules of football. By 1912, 21 countries were already affiliated to FIFA, and in 1930, the first World Cup was held.
Football was put on hold during the Second World War, but after the war, the number of countries had jumped to 73. Currently, FIFA has 204 countries that play football (soccer).
So how did Soccer come to America? And how did we get American Football?
The first British colonies used to play soccer when they settled the Americas, but it was banned a few years later. Later, some of the big colleges started playing soccer, and the first college games became popular events after the Civil War.
Meanwhile, Harvard (a really big college at the time) had become more interested in the rugby style of play (as opposed to the associated football style), and looked for competition against other teams. They found some with McGill University of Montreal, who also played the rugby style, and the two teams played the first intercollegiate rugby match in 1874.
Origins of American Football
A year later, a fateful event which would forever change the fortunes of American football and soccer took place. Yale, who was still playing associated football (or soccer), and Harvard, who had moved on to rugby, bridged the gap by playing a match under special rules which amounted to playing soccer with the rugby style. This new game included both goals and “tries” (later known as “touchdowns”), using a 15 man roster. Yale decided to play this new “soccer with the rugby code” after Harvard beat them badly. Princeton (another big college) was impressed enough to do the same. In 1876, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia formed the Intercollegiate Football Association using Rugby rules. Thus, our American football was born. Other schools soon followed, and at that point, it was the end of college soccer in the US and the beginning of American football.
However, by the turn of the century, soccer was revived, and the 1920's are widely considered the first Golden Era in American Soccer. With the founding of the American Soccer League in 1921, the US was finally ready to compete on an international level.
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